Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Feelings Jenga: An Excellent Opportunity For a Snit Fit

Ms. B and I had to do some shifting of days and time for group this week, but we conducted our session in the boys' classroom while they ate lunch. Since we knew we'd have limited time and they'd have limited attention due to the tasty school sustenance, we decided to play "Feelings Jenga" and use the opportunity not only to discuss the expression of feelings & emotions, but to practice patience, turn-taking, conversational skills, pro-social interaction, etc. While our Feelings Jenga set is not exactly this one, it's similar.

Everyone in the C's Crew had a chance to remove a Jenga piece from the tower, and if they chose a "feeling" block, read the question aloud for everyone and answer it. Some of the questions in our set were things like, "How do you feel when you make a wise decision?", "Who is your role model and what do you admire about them?", "When you are in a tough situation, how do you deal with it?" and more. We had minimal issues during our first round. We needed to remind the boys to keep their elbows off the table (the tower was  unstable after B got a little daring when removing blocks), to use appropriate voice level (they were understandably excited), and to wait their turn. They frequently tried to help whoever's turn it was by yelling out suggestions and pointing (and in the process shaking the table), which led to some frustration if someone didn't take a suggested piece out of the tower. Ms. B suggested they give "silent prompts" instead, and coached the boys in doing thumbs up or down to help guide their classmates towards "safe" Jenga decisions.

The only hiccup in the operation was W. W is a very reactive child, quick to anger and react, but also typically quick to recover. I'm not entirely sure what upset him, but W refused to participate in the latter half of the group session, but instead wandered the room, crawled under tables, and crumpled up papers to throw at the wall. Ms. B is fantastic because she got up at one point without me even noticing and brought him back to group, while I continued to run the game. Of course, as soon as he sat down, W began trying to kick the table, making the Jenga tower wobble in fear. As soon as W was ready to take his turn, the tower fell, which obviously set him off again.

When group ended, we took W for a walk to help him calm down. W told us he was upset that T cussed at him on the way up to class before group (which happened 30 minutes before so I'm not sure why it was being brought up now when he wasn't bothered by it at the time, but hey, I'm not an 11-year old emotionally disturbed child). We talked about what he could do "next time" and encouraged him to tell us and talk about what's bothering him, especially during group, so that we could talk about it and use it as a teachable moment. He went back into class with little trouble, and had no problems for the rest of the day.

So, all in all, a successful group session today! Of course, literally as soon as Ms. B and I left C's Crew, we had to manage a crisis as we passed by a student having a minor seizure outside the cafeteria. My job? Never boring.

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